UPDATE 3-U.S. court signals narrow bondholders win in Argentina subpoena case
(Adds ex-Argentina finance secretary comment paragraphs 3-4 and context, paragraph 10)
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday indicated that creditors should be able to seek limited information about Argentina's non-U.S. assets in a case about bank subpoenas in decade-long litigation over Argentina's obligations to bond investors.
During a one-hour-long oral argument over hedge fund NML Capital Ltd's efforts to seek payment of court judgments it says are worth around $1.7 billion, several justices suggested that military and diplomatic assets should be off-limits, which would narrow the scope of the ruling.
Depending on how a ruling along those lines is written, it could make it harder for NML to enforce the court judgments it has won. Buenos Aires-based economist Guillermo Nielsen, Argentina's finance secretary from 2002 to 2005, indicated that the government has few commercial assets around the world.
"There is effectively nothing," he said.
A separate and more high-profile case, in which Argentina is challenging a court judgment ordering it to pay $1.33 billion to NML and other so-called holdout bond investors or face a potential default if it refuses to do so, is also pending before the high court.
During Monday's argument, the nine justices gave no indication of where they stand on the bigger case. At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts made it clear to NML's lawyer, Theodore Olson, that the broader history of the litigation has no bearing on how the court will rule.
"It seems to me that context is totally irrelevant," Roberts said. "It doesn't matter what the basis of the underlying judgment is." Continuación...